The Bunyip is a mythical beast of Australian Folklore which also has ties to Aboriginal mythology.
The name Bunyip is translated as ‘Devil’ or ‘Spirit’ and the beast has most commonly been described as some kind of lake monster said to dwell in things such as billabongs and swamps. Accounts from early Aboriginal drawings show the beast to have a tail like a horse, with flippers and tusks or horns.
More recent sightings of the Bunyip however, claim various physical features such as, scales, fur, a long thin neck and even a bird-like head.
The Bunyip is said to be nocturnal and it is claimed that the Bunyip emerges from his watery home at night to feast on animals of all manner, even women and children. It is identified by a loud bellowing cry and when the native Aborigines hear this they stay well away from the water. Despite their predatory and devastating nature Bunyips are also a common character in Australian children’s stories.
When early European settlers arrived in Australia many saw the Bunyip as a fact and believed it to be an undiscovered animal, they experienced many sights and sounds that wouldn’t have been encountered in their native countries and these could easily be mistaken for the Bunyip.
Skull of a legendary beast?
What was believed to be the skull of a Bunyip was found in 1846 in New South Wales washed up on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. It was confirmed by multiple experts in the field that this was indeed the skull of some creature unknown to science. The skull was put on show at a museum in Sydney and people flocked from all over to see this apparent Bunyip skull. The attention the exhibit attracted also resulted in many more so called sightings of the Bunyip but most were probably copycat sightings and wishful thinking. It was later discovered that the apparent Bunyip skull was actually that of a horse or calf that had some kind of abnormality, much to the dissapointment of many.
Bunyip, real or just a myth?
To this date no real physical evidence has been found to prove the existence of the Bunyip, experts believe that the Bunyip may actually originate from stories passed down from generation of a Diprotodon (now extinct) which lived at the times of early Aborigines and that the so called sightings to a more recent date could have been of Fur Seals that have followed rivers and lakes further inland.
The so called cries of a Bunyip may also be put down to many of the indigneous animals of Australia, easily mistaken, especially by someone new to the land like the European settlers. Koala Bears and Possums are capable of roars which could be mistaken for the Bunyip as well as the Curlews which can at times let loose blood curdling cries.The screams and cries of ‘women’ and ‘children’ may be down to the Barking Owl which is known to make sounds of that kind and can easily be mistaken.
So with no real proof its hard to say if this legendary beast is real or not, there will always be skeptics and there will always be believers, we will probably never know for sure!